Crab and Crawfish Bisque
Photo by of Eric Eike
by Eric Eike
In the shadows of the old United States Steel mill along Tri-City Beach Road in Baytown, Texas was one of the best locations for catching blue crabs in Harris or Chambers county. Houston Lighting and Power made a "cut" that connected Cedar Bayou to the system of bays that gave Baytown its name. The crab would move out of the bay and into the cut where young boys with a spool of twine, a weight of some kind and a chicken neck could catch enough blue crab to take home and get back into the good graces of his mother. I was one of those boys.
At the age of twelve my buddies and I had to rely on one of our parents to take us to the HL&P cut. David Fourrier's dad (Francis) loaded us boys up in an old mail truck that he bought at an auction along with a cooler of Pearl and a bushel wash tub for the crabs. In the heat and humidity of the gulf coast, Mr. Fourrier would stay well-hydrated while my friends and I netted enough crab to almost fill the tub. Now I'm not sure how many blue crabs it takes to equal a bushel, but I do know it was enough crab to cover the back end of the mail truck.
You see, Mr. Francis Fourrier was quite the Cajun character. Between the Pearl beer and his desire to have a good time, he conveniently took a corner and hit a curb with just the right speed and centripetal force to send four boys and a bushel of crab spilling all over the back of the mail truck. Our only refuge were the wheel wells that were only big enough for a single twelve year old. That resulted in two of us above the sea of angry crabs and two of us to left to fend for ourselves.
Any boy growing up on the coast that is worth the salt in his beans knows to pick up the crab from behind, grabbing it at the base of its swimming fin where it connects to the main body. But a bushel of crabs in the back of a moving mail truck driven by a half-drunk Cajun made for quite the challenge! We tag-teamed the chore all the way home (with only a few minor pinches and two crushed crabs) and managed to get the crabs back in the wash tub so we could get them into the styrofoam chest for steaming.
To this day, I don't hesitate to handle live crab with my bare hands and I have Mr. Francis Fourrier to thank for that, and for one of my favorite childhood memories. Fresh crab is a plus (although not required) for this issue's recipe. If they're from the HL&P cut, it's even better.
Crab & Crawfish Bisque
Rahr's Blonde (Rahr and Sons Brewing Company, Fort Worth, Texas)
Rahr's Blonde is a medium-bodied traditional Munich Helles-style pale lager. It was the first beer to come out of the brewery which opened in 2004.
Beer geek notes:
ABV = 5%; IBUS = 20; Color = Pale gold; Hops = Magnum, Sterling; Malts = 2 row, Munich, CaraFoam; Preferred serving temperature = 40 degrees F